On July 12th, Krab Jab Studio hosted an opening reception for their latest exhibition. In collaboration with Satyros Brucato, "The Dark Woods" invited a diverse collection of artists to explore the woods as faerie archetype - step off the path and, eventually, share with us what came back with them. As Satyros thoroughly explained in his talk that evening, the "Disneyfication" of fairy tales has, in his opinion, reshaped the very concept of "fae" to most people into a facile, round-edged notion that teaches nothing and requires nothing. His hope for this exhibition, which is after all subtitled "the Roots of the Fairy Tale", is for the artists to remind the viewer that fairy tales did not spring up out of a culture yearning for cuteness and sparkles; the woods are dark and scary, he told us that night, and they are transformative.
The work on display runs an incredibly wide range in craft, but oddly enough I found it to be thematically compressed. I asked Satyros during his Q&A about the level of direction that he had taken on with the artists, as many of the pieces were purpose-made for The Dark Woods; he replied that other than the initial mission statement he had given them free reign. Certainly this reflected the chaotic notion of faerie that he holds, but between the leading title and his own strong anti-Disney feelings, there are very few pieces that stray from the hypothesis of "dark, gritty fairies are the real fairies". Whimsical, composed acrylics such as Alice Dufeu's "Abyssal Roots" are hard against jumbled constructions such as "The Peevish Slyphid" by Yvette Endrijautzki (a piece I quite admire by the way, this is no criticism of Ms. Endrijautzki) and Carly Janine Mazur's own acrylic, "Kodama". Perhaps the intimate space of the show was at work here, but I both admired the individual work while finding the exhibition as a concept somewhat flat.
Taken in all, though, I'd be doing potential visitors to the gallery a disservice if I seemed to be waving you off. The quality of the work is overall quite high, and if my own read on The Dark Woods differs so much from Satyros's that I was disappointed in the message conveyed, that doesn't rise to the level of an argument so much as a divergent viewpoint. There is another reception being hosted on August 9th, from 6 until 9pm; perhaps further illumination will help me to understand his point of view. To quote another artist's take on the subject, after all, "anything can happen in the woods."
(Note: most if not all of the work from the show, including the pieces referenced above, can be seen at http://www.krabjabstudio.com/#!current/cnkj We have not linked to the pieces directly out of respect to the gallery and the artists.)
~review by John Casker
Curated by Satyros Brucato (http://satyrosphilbrucato.wordpress.com/)
July 12 - September 5
Krab Jab Studio, Seattle
Update: Artist statements are available to read online (whttp://www.krabjabstudio.com/#!current/cnkj - click on a piece to read the statement) and a few of the artists talk about their work on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC8XSepEYJQwE3MKjw6Yv-w . Satyr's edited Curator Talk should be up very soon, as well as the studio Director's statement on working on the show.